Brandies can be defined as any distilled alcoholic beverage that has its’ basis in fruit.

To make brandy you first need to ferment the fruit in a similar manner as with a grain product. It is then distilled in a variety of ways to form a fruit eau de vie.  

When one thinks of brandy one automatically thinks of grape brandies (indeed the word comes from the word brandewijn - burnt wine). Grape wine is certainly the earliest consumed product of fermentation (although mead and beer are close behind). Grapes easily ferment due to the high sugar concentration and the fact that their skin provides a convenient home for yeasts. In the production of alcoholic beverages the source of the fruit sugar makes a massive difference to the end product.  In basic terms this can be illustrated in the difference between wine and cider, cognac and calvados but it is also important to note that fruit variety also plays a part, the difference between Pisco and Cognac is primarily down to the use of different grapes, pisco uses primarily Muscat and Cognac Ugni Blanc. There is a caveat to the grape category and that is the use of the pomace (the skins and residues from squeezing the grapes to produce  the basis for wine production.) These 'left-overs'  still have enough sugar to ferment, and although their wines are never drunk, the distilled product of these is under various guises, most commonly Marc or Grappa. These are good examples of distillation being used as a form of purification as well as for increasing the alcoholic conetent.

The classification is based on age statements. V.S. or Very Special is a minimum of 2.5 years old, V.S.O.P. or Very Special Old Pale means at leans 4 years old and X.O. 6.5 years.